Michael Astani – Infallible Speaker

I first began thinking about public speaking and its relationship to learning when thinking about when I visited the speaker’s corner in Hyde’s Park in London. Issues surrounding public speaking, its implications, and free spaces have always interested me. Having narrowed the scope I then looked to outside sources. I read two books: The future of ideas: the fate of the commons in a connected world by Lawrence Lessing and Stilled Tongues: From Soapbox to Soundbite by Stephen Coleman. Lawrence Lessing’s book focuses on spaces. Lessing defines the spaces as commons, spaces where information is shared. He argues that since the technological age began, these spaces shifted location, now primarily inhabiting digital spaces. As the new site for exchange, the Internet faces the same challenges of intellectual property rights. From these readings, I glean and understanding of the history of information exchange and the evolving spaces in which the occur.

The goal of my project is to examine and create a space where information is exchanged. By creating an unusual context for exchange I hope to bring into question how information exchange occurs, and to indict the seeming infallibility which a space, and the objects within re-enforce the speaker with.

I also decided that I would install speakers to play a speech which would be read via text to speech software. Having created the podium in the eighth week, I then moved to deciding on speech and figuring out how to record the computer generated voice. The speech I chose to be read at the gallery is from the British philosopher, John Stuart Mill’s work titled, On Liberty. The excerpt from his treatise that I chose discusses the freedom of speech. Fallowing his own proposition of the “greatest happiness principle”, Mills believed that because humans can never be completely infallible, the freedom of speech should not be limited. I took the excerpt from Mill’s treatise and turned it into a handout which was to be handed out and accompany the reading from the podium.

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